Electric Bass Guitar Buying Guide

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Electric Bass Guitar Buying Guide

The modern-day electric bass guitar evolved from the huge double basses that became so popular with 1950s rock ‘n’ roll bands. They basically work in the same way as standard electric guitars; however, they are significantly larger, they are fatter, and they usually have only four strings. It is still possible to buy acoustic bass guitars, but the sound frequencies they emit are sometimes hard to be heard amidst the sound of other musical instruments.
The crucial component parts of an ordinary electric guitar are all present on a bass; these include volume, tone, and pick-up controls, but they are designed in a way that does justice to incredibly low sounds. The bass guitar is now considered to be the backbone of modern music, as it sets the rhythm and speed for an entire song, and other musicians in a band will often take their lead from the bassist. Choosing the right bass guitar can be a complex decision to make, and there are a few factors to consider if the best instrument for the individual is to be selected.

Choosing the Correct Electric Bass Guitar

There is simply no substitute for a well-crafted bass guitar made with the finest materials. Generally speaking, guitars produced by the leading brands – such as Les Paul and Gibson – will deliver quality sound. However, that does not mean there are not some excellent bargains to be found; it is simply a matter of knowing exactly what to look for. It should be remembered that an amp specifically designed for a bass guitar will be needed as well.

How Many Strings Should an Electric Bass Guitar Have?

For many years, all electric bass guitars had only 4 strings, but that has changed since the 1980s. Most people – and certainly beginners – will find that a 4-string bass guitar is more than adequate for their needs. The production of music with extremely low notes, for instance, can be tricky with the standard bass guitar, yet a 5-string version allows for much lower pitches without the need for detuning. Some guitarists will achieve those lower notes by using the four lowest strings of a 5-string bass guitar; indeed, some modern versions are now tuned with the notes B, E, A, D instead of the standard E, A, D, G. For experienced and proficient bass players, there are some 6-string bass guitars around, but beginners or those learning their craft should probably stick to 4 strings.

How to Select the Most Appropriate Scale

The scale of an electric bass guitar refers to the area over which the strings vibrate, and it is measured from the bridge to the nut of the guitar. The length of strings is directly related to the pitch they are capable of; longer strings are capable of much lower pitches. For this reason, bass guitars are usually longer than standard guitars.
The vast majority of electric bass guitars have 34-inch scales. Referred to by some musicians and manufacturers as long scale, these models provide the best balance between sound and functionality. A 5-string guitar is more likely to have a 35-inch scale, but there are some short scale guitars around that are sometimes less than 30 inches long. People who are learning or perfecting their skills should stick to the standard 34-inch scale; as longer guitars have their notes spread further apart. If the bass guitar is intended for a child, or someone with particularly small hands, a short scale model may be a more comfortable instrument to play, but it will usually suffer from an inferior sound quality.

Left-Handed Electric Bass Guitars

Many left-handed learners choose a left-handed guitar without ever trying a regular model. There are no fundamental differences between the two varieties; however, there are far more standard guitars around, and the ability to play only a left-handed bass guitar will restrict that person’s choice. In fact, some left-handed bass players create unique and unusual sounds with standard guitars.

Fretted and Fretless Electric Bass Guitars

Frets are the metal wires that run along the length of the neck, underneath the strings. They are there to help the player ascertain where each note is. However, some guitars come without frets, and there are advantages and drawbacks associated with both varieties.

Guitars with Frets

Frets tell people exactly where certain notes can be found. However, the very action of pressing a finger down onto a fret disturbs the natural sound of the instrument. Beginners and those people who are still perfecting their skills should stick to frets, as this will teach the player to recognise the exact sound of each note. Players who like to play with a slapping style will need to buy a fretted guitar. Slapping refers to a percussive style of play whereby the player literally slaps the strings instead of strumming them.

Guitars Without Frets

Only experienced and highly proficient guitar players should buy a fretless electric bass guitar. Players must naturally gauge where each note can be found on the neck, and that takes an enormous amount of skill. However, the result is a much smoother sound, as the fingers can seamlessly glide from one note to the next.

The Modelling Bass

A relatively new innovation is that of the modelling bass. This is an electric bass guitar that is designed to work in conjunction with computer technology. Used correctly, it imitates the sound of several basses playing at the same time. The latest models come with a number of customisable options that result in a wide range of interesting sounds.

Choosing a Precision or Jazz Electric Bass Guitar

The overwhelming majority of bass guitars on the market today fall into one of just two categories: Jazz and Precision; both are brand names that are now used as generic terms.


The Precision bass has the honour of being the world’s first mass-produced electric bass guitar. Produced by classic guitar manufacturer Fender since 1951, this beautiful instrument, also known as the ‘P’ bass, quickly started to replace large string basses. There are now several manufacturers who make something almost identical to the original design. A Precision model can be identified by its unique body shape and its split pick-up.


Fender later released a new style of bass guitar called the Fender Jazz. This instrument’s neck is distinctly different to that of the Precision, and it features two separate pick-ups. The Jazz bass produces a completely different sound – perfect for jazz music.

Finding Electric Bass Guitars on eBay

Starting at the eBay homepage, the All Categories drop-down menu should be selected; this will reveal a list of different categories. Musical Instruments should be selected, and the Search icon should then be clicked. A further list of sub-categories will be displayed on the left of the page. One of the options will be Guitars, and clicking that link will take the user to a new list of sub categories. Clicking Bass will take the user to another new screen; one that contains a number of options designed to narrow down the choices to only those that meet the user’s requirements. These choices can be selected by clicking on the check-boxes.


Shopping for electric bass guitars on eBay is a simple and quick process. Users have the option of searching for the ideal guitar with the user-friendly, category-based search function. It is also possible to find items for sale with the text-entry box near the top of the homepage. Selecting the best guitar for the individual is sometimes a matter of personal preference, but most guitar tutors will recommend that the basic 4-string Precision variety is the best for beginners. Where guitars are intended for children or those with particularly small hands, ‘short scale’ guitars should be considered. The bass guitar is a relatively new innovation compared to other musical instruments; however, it is now the heart and soul of most rock bands, and selecting the best one is simply a matter of knowing all the options.

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